Editorial: Hazara Genocide And Inadequate Baloch Protest
Hours after Saturday’s deadly bomb blast which killed more than 80 people in Quetta city, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), an underground Sunni extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack. The LeJ has also issued a fresh warning saying that is currently capable of carrying out at least twenty more attacks similar to the one conducted in Quetta’s Hazara Town on Saturday. The Lashkar also says that it does not fear the governor’s rule or the military control of Quetta city as it says it has “Allah’s full support” in its operations against the Shias.
All senior government officials and opposition leaders have strongly condemned the attack on the Hazaras except for the Baloch nationalist leadership. There is not one single leader or political entity that could be described as the sole representative or spokesman of the Baloch nationalists. However, the term “Baloch nationalist” implies to all individuals, political parties or armed groups who either call for Balochistan’s freedom or demand maximum autonomy for the Baloch people. In the midst of countrywide protests and vocal condemnation of the Lashkar operations, the Baloch condemnation is barely audible and this is a matter of serious concern for us. Lack of public protest and condemnation on the part of the Baloch nationalists against the killing of Hazaras is either intentional indifference or a clear lack of political vision.
Balochistan is the land of all ethnic, sectarian and religious communities and Baloch nationalists, as the genuine representatives of the majority ethnic group, should play a more active role in speaking up against repeated attacks on Balochistan’s Hazaras. On January 10, 2013, when a major terrorist attack, carried out by a Sunni militant group, struck Quetta killing more than 100 people, we expected the Baloch nationalist leaders such as Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Hasil Khan Bizenjo (who are relatively moderate as compared to those who ask for freedom and face more security threats inside Pakistan), to go to the Hazara towns and offer condolences. The Baloch leadership, regrettably, took much time to issue a statement of condemnation of the Lashkar’s barbaric act. Even Prime Minister Ashraf and opposition leader Imran Khan played a more significant role in the aftermath of the blast as they visited Quetta to show support for the victims of the tragedy .
The Baloch leadership cannot and must not remain indifferent to whatever is happening in Quetta city. They have to follow these developments more closely because, after the Hazaras, they are going to be the next victim of Lashkar’s operations. After all, all religious groups view ethnic nationalism as un-Islamic. The Lashkar has emerged as our version of the Pakistani Taliban. They also have serious problems with educated and democratic people. Also, the attacks on the Shais are going to determine the future of Balochistan. Who knows these attacks would be used by the federal government as a pretext to bring the army in Balochistan. There was insufficient Baloch condemnation of the January 10th blasts and almost no reaction over the imposition of the governor’s rule in the province. The nationalists should know that neither Hazaras are the last on the list of the Lashkar’s hit-list nor is the governor’s rule the final option the federal government is left with. If these attacks continue and the army is called to take control of the province, this is going to have destructive consequences for the Baloch people.
The Hazara Democratic Party has always stood by the Baloch people for their rights. It is the time the Baloch leadership also cared for the Hazaras suffering in the hands of the religious extremists. This should not be limited to mere issuing newspaper statements of condemnation. The Baloch leaders should practically go to the Hazara towns and meet their leaders to express unconditional solidarity. Apologists among the nationalists may say that they are already caught up in the middle of their own war with the federal government but that is not an acceptable excuse. It does not require much time and effort to call a press conference or visit the families of those who have been killed in terrorist attacks.
It is deeply disappointing that none of the top Baloch leaders addressed a press conference or visited the Hazaras at the time of distress. The ordinary Baloch citizen is deeply outraged over these killings and they are also speaking up angrily on social media. The Baloch youths oppose religious extremism and they know it is simply the time to unconditionally condemn the killing of the Hazaras without necessarily bringing up the Baloch issue at the same time. What is happening in Quetta is not an ethnic or religious problem alone. It is a serious humanitarian crisis and we all have to keep aside our religious, political and ethnic differences while standing by the brave Hazaras who have suffered more than their share of hardship.
The Baloch nationalists have to assume a more proactive and responsible role in order to lead the province. They should stop only complaining about their problems. As the leaders of Balochistan, they should speak for the rights of all communities. By doing so, they are going to benefit their own political movement as this will help them draw more national and international attention to the Balochistan situation. The Baloch and the Hazaras raise their fingers toward almost the same elements responsible for the injustices committed to them. Unity among Baloch and Hazaras and other oppressed communities is in everyone’s interest.
The Baloch Hal